Y'ALL. You know that feeling when just everything and everyone in your nightmare of a life seems to be conspiring to trap you, like trapping you would mean them winning a game, and it's all you can do maneuver around every trap door and dodge every loaded interrogation and duck every gloved hand shooting out for your throat from every pitch black shadow? That feeling when, even though you thought you had gotten over the emotional fragility of your youth and had grown up and grown strong and crushed the pathetic assumptions a world ruled by patriarchy had set for you, but then some dude comes and just EATS ALL YOUR PIE, and all of a sudden it's like you've been sent back in time, and you're no longer the genius deity you know in your heart you're meant to be?
Dang, don't you just HATE that feeling???
Anyway! Your recappers maybe don't have the *exact* same excuses as the Liars for dropping any kind of balls this week and not giving y'all a comment section in which to react until now, but on the other hand, DON'T we?? THEY don't have to deal with the knowledge that the worst/most offensive parts of their nightmare were all unforced creative blunders! Which, as entirely non-professional but very emotionally and intellectually invested cultural critics, we don't get the luxury of forgetting.
Oh, also: Alexis managed to lose the entire final draft of the post from the CMS moments before hitting POST, without saving a copy in an external document! We've never really talked about it, but the CMS for this blog is basically our own personal A (glitchy, bitchy, and out to get us), so maybe we have gone through a lot of the same things the Liars have after all??
Anway, we're here. The finale looms. Mona probably isn't going to save us. Make your peace with that.
Let's do this!
THIS WEEK'S MVP
Jesus, Mary, we guess. Seven years and a dozen variously Out of Town/Out of Wine parental units, and we're pretty sure this is the most a Rosewood parent has done for their kid (well, okay, Ashley Marin ALSO kind of did this?? But it didn't take, so, one for one, Mary wins).
(BEGRUDGING) Runner-up: Ezra’s *delivery* of “I have a Master’s degree in American Literature; there’s nothing I can’t handle.” Because honestly, same.
THIS WEEK'S LVP
The writers, for thinking that resolving the game by doubling down on their evil trans woman gambit and having her murdered by a mentally ill Mona (who is then reduced to a useless child by just the memory of Villain Charlotte) would be Good and Right.
Our rage over this will bubble up throughout, but really, just go over to Autostraddle for a hot minute and let Heather Hogan's incandescent eloquence wash over you.
Now here we are — two years, 30 episodes, and one Donald Trump presidency later — and Pretty Little Liars has responded to the knowledge that they were actively putting harmful stories into the world by … putting more harmful stories into the world. 50 trans women have been murdered since I wrote that recap. The Trump administration has rolled back Obama’s Title IX protections for trans students, causing SCOTUS to punt Gavin Grimm’s case. State legislatures around the country have introduced “bathroom bills” to keep trans people out of public facilities that match their gender identity, as well as bills to make it impossible for trans people to access their vital records. North Carolina has lied repeatedly about repealing HB2. The two Conservative forces that have caused the most harm to trans women, Breitbart and the Family Research Council, are in the president’s ear all day every day. We have written almost twice as many trans obituaries as Pretty Little Liars recaps since that midseason finale back in 2015.
We'll be here when you get back.
BIGGEST SHOCK/BEST SURPRISE
We've got…nothing? Other than, maybe, to reiterate how gobsmackingly obtuse, offensive, and harmful the show ended up being here in the eleventh hour. As The Middle so eloquently put it:
We guess we CAN say that, until all the poisonously disappointing reveals at the end, the atmosphere and execution of this episode was so hearteningly Old School PLL Thriller-Noir that we were having a really great time. That music cue between Aria and Ezra's one-body-dilemma and Mona in the diner before Hanna, Caleb and Spencer show up, that was so fun! And Spencer and Caleb's moment of closure in the tunnel (presuming that WAS Spencer), that was really well done! We mean, all that joy only makes the disappointment the more bitter, but, well, it is what it is.
Oh, wait! On a meta-level, there is this little Wren-is-A tidbit that we stumbled across on Tumblr:
As the OP said: #i want to believe
Aria just straight up having a conversation with the dead man rolling around in her trunk. That is truly the most believable thing ANY of the Liars have done in ages. These girls have spent nearly a decade being tortured and/or haunted by a dozen legit non-Dunhills—they should've been angrily lecturing corpses ages ago.
MOST LIT ALLUSION
Alexis here: The episode title is a direct reference to Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novel of the same name, and is in turn an indirect reference to the best, most artful episode Pretty Little Liars ever put out, Season Four's black & white noirified "Shadow Play" (4x19 to this episode's 7x19!). I wrote a long treatise in the middle of that recap about Chandler's vision of detectives and humanity, as it relates to the Liars and Rosewood, and stand by it fully. The heart and vision the PLL team showed in that episode was so crystalline, so full of biting hope as the pieces of the smart, clever anti-patriarchy weapon they'd (seemed to have) been putting together for four years suddenly came into stark relief. To know now how thoroughly they let that weapon crumble, jeez.
Anyway, here is a quote from Farewell, My Lovely:
“Who is this Hemingway person at all?”
“A guy that keeps saying the same thing over and over until you begin to believe it must be good.”
“That must take a hell of a long time,” the big man said.
And here is one from Chandler's essay on the production of detective fiction, "The Simple Art of Murder":
Every detective story writer makes mistakes, and none will ever know as much as he should. Conan Doyle made mistakes which completely invalidated some of his stories, but he was a pioneer, and Sherlock Holmes after all is mostly an attitude and a few dozen lines of unforgettable dialogue.
So, y'know. I guess if that is the Chandlerian conclusion PLL was adhering to, they passed with flying noir. As much as we complain (and do we ever complain!), Pretty Little Liars HAS been a pioneer, and the things we have always loved most about it are its attitude and few dozen lines of unforgettable dialogue.
I guess that will have to suffice.
THAT'S SO [YOUR TROPE HERE]
"women be crazy"
(it's not good)
PREVIOUSLY ON PRETTY LITTLE LIARS
Tanner came back to town and because she had never really, like, liked them, y'know? back when she had to rescue them from being kidnapped and tortured for months in an underground dollhouse, set the Liars directly in her sights. As a result, the police raided all the Liars' houses & Lucas Lofts and confiscated their teddy bears and cell phones and left them to fend for themselves with nothing but a free suite at the Radley to their collective names. Mona, queen among Amazonians, clued the Liars+Caleb-Aria into the very obvious fact that Aria was on the A.D. team, and they subsequently caught the Littlest Liar black-hoodied in the middle of Murder Woods, promptly calling off their lifelong friendship. Ezra tried to redeem himself to Aria/legitimate critics of the entire Ezria relationship by heatedly insisting that he “deserved” for Aria to write that police report about him, and, no, stop talking Aria, let him finish, you are wrong about being wrong about calling him out for his predatory behaviors!! Spaleb tied the knot. JKJKJK it was Haleb who tied the knot, but Spaleb was a real typo on Rosemary's part that nearly got through to publication and deomnstrates exactly our feelings about all of that. Also, there was a sex montage (#sofreeform), then Mona stole the literal game, then Aria, free and clear after A.D.'s many interventions, ended up with a stinking, rotting Elliott Dunhill in her trunk.
It's Called Taking a Cop Shot
We open on Tanner, in the precinct, with a bee in her steely grey bun. She's on the phone with her boss, angry that she's got a desk full of Liar mug shots (Emily's is *chef's kiss*), but not one single arrest warrant to put into play. And she wants one! NOW.
Cut to Murder Road, running alongside Murder Woods, where Aria is right back to where we left her last week, two seconds away from being caught by Murder Cop for having Dunhill's rotting corpse stuffed inside her Murder Trunk. Thanks, A.D.!
Panicking at the sight of Murder Cop's flashing lights, Aria drops her keys into the trunk as she’s slamming it shut, effectively blocking her own route of escape. She tries fending Murder Cop's help off by explaining breathlessly and at length that her friend! is coming! with an extra set! of keys! like, SOON! But Murder Cop is too excited about the chance to get to use one of the only two skills RPD officers are actually trained for (rescuing kittens from trees is the other), and thus refuses to be dissuaded. He puts both hands on her trunk, literal inches away from the corpse Detective Fury spent half the season chasing after, and starts bouncing the car so hard we're surprised Dunhill's body doesn't fall apart at the seams.
We, along with Aria, are sweating A-branded bullets at this point, but just as the trunk pops open, Murder Cop gets a call on his walkie and turns away. While he’s not looking, Aria snatches her keys from the dead crook of Dunhill's elbow, slams the trunk, and zips back into the driver seat, shouting her thanks as she speeds away.
Sleuth Bros Be Summitin'
The other Liars-plus-Caleb-plus-Ezra-now-we-guess are gathered in Spencer’s barn, where Caleb has just told them that Mona has and is tinkering with Murder Jumanji—a fact he and Ezra learned thanks to being a tech genius and an expert creeper, respectively. Because Mona can't ever catch one fucking break, they have jumped to the conclusion that she is A.D. And if that's not enough bad news for the Liars for one night, Caleb has also been listening to the police blotter and knows Tanner is THISCLOSE to arresting them. So, the Liars-plus-Caleb decide they need to kidnap Mona and turn her into the police to save themselves.
Ezra isn't included in this decision making process because a) he is busy trying to get ahold of Aria, whose location he doesn't have a chickpea of a clue about (which we know he HATES), and b) he can't believe? what he is hearing?? coming out of their mouths right now???
Someone get this guy a degree in Western Literature then!
“A.D. can’t forgive,” he says to the women he used to give poor grades to while knowing that they were getting poor grades due to being psychologically and also physically tortured, who have nevertheless accepted him into their inner circle, and approved of him as a Liar-fiancé. “That’s the only edge any of you ever had over her and now you don’t even have that.”
On the one hand, he makes a sharp and salient point! The Liars' only edge HAS been their ability to trust and forgive, and the last two #5YearsForward seasons have been challenging to watch—and have found the Liars spinning their wheels even more than normal—for precisely the reason that they have been scattered and prone to mistrust.
On the other hand, die in a fire, Judgey Ezra.
Anyway, Hanna volunteers to find Mona and try to *talk* her into giving herself up, and Caleb insists on going with her—as back up, or Plan B, time will only tell. Spencer, in the meantime, is making careful note of the sudden appearnce of a secret wine bottle note from Mary in her open doorway. Yep! LIARS! CLOSE YOUR DAMN DOORS!
Conversations With Dead People
Aria, meanwhile, is speeding down the highway with a corpse rolling around in her trunk, and she’s TALKING TO IT LIKE IT’S ALIVE. She’s decided she’s just going to “take you to the police” because when she “introduces you to them” they’ll forget all about “the ticket" and like, okay, Aria, maybe, but also maybe don't you think that handing Tanner the knowledge that someone very expertly crafted a paper trail proving a false alibi for you for the night of Dunhill's disappearance might cause her to drop those charges on the remaining Liars, instead?
It doesn't matter. NOTHING MATTERS. Let's just collectively marvel at how entertaining and compelling the show made long shots of just an empty rearview mirror. Amazing.
Speaking of empty visual space filled with conversations with a (maybe) dead person: someone stole the game back from Mona! HOW is this possible, you ask? Well, for one, Mona was amateur enough to leave her apartment while A.D. was still in the wind and the cops were closing in. Also, black magic (probably). In either case, whoever stole the game left behind a ransom note on Two Crows diner letterhead: "Time for pie. Be there." BOARD SHORTS? Is that you?!?
While Mona is communing with the smug maybe-dead, Hanna and Caleb are approaching her apartment. But not, like, silently, like two people who know they have a delicate situation on their hands and who might want to show a bit of care. Nope! They are straight up bickering about Mona’s role in the whole hullabaloo. Thankfully (or maybe not), Mona is so rattled by her close call with A.D. that she doesn't clock them as she hurries, trench-coated up for some detective work, out of her apartment—despite the fact that they barely had time to hide in the stairwell RIGHT NEXT TO her front door. "The hell??" Caleb demands, but, dude, trust Hanna: it'll be way better if they just follow Mona. Like tracking a predator in the wild—you have to be careful, and never get too close. Duh.
Spencer's communication with a ghost goes about as well as Aria's and Mona's. Despite promising to leave town/Spencer's life for good, Mary Drake is indeed back, and has asked Spencer to meet her at(~ where else ~) the Lost Woods Resort. Which, it turns out, Mary Drake not only owns, but has left to Spencer *and Alison* as a sort of going away gift? This despite the fact that such a move would certainly draw A LOT of unwanted attention, like, legally, and despite the fact that the Lost Woods Resort has been the epicenter of the Liars' torment for nearly a decade, all the way from Mona's lAir in junior year, to Hanna's kidnapping and imprisonment last season. Regardless of ALL OF THAT, Mary knows the girls are going to need some sweet cash for lawyers, and this appears to be the best she can do for them.
At this point, Alexis smartly points out that she *could* confess to the murder of Dunhill to get the girls out of trouble, if she wanted to do a full on parental sacrifice.
Alexis: couldn't she plead guilty to murder
If she REALLY wanted to help?
Rosemary: did she officially murder someone? haha
She was conspiring with him in the first place!
Rosemary: or do you mean lie to help spencer
take the bullet for her so to speak
Alexis: no, but I mean, admit it in their place
Rosemary: that's honestly the only way these girls won't end up in prison
Alas, Mary doesn't seem to think of that option. (…Yet.)
A Master Class in…Something
While everyone else is out sleuthing/hauling around corpses, Emily and Alison are cozied up on the couch of the DiLaurentis House of Horrors, RPD's finest cruising by every seven minutes. Alison wants to be out looking for Aria (DOES she??), but Emily plays protective partner and insists that Ali is safest at home (lolololol oh just you ladies wait). That's all well and good, but now Alison’s having a meltdown, worried about what will happen to the baby if they gets arrested, to which Emily offers the completely unfounded reassurance that, after all her hard work locking down Alison as her Official Bed Buddy™, there’s no way Em is letting it all go to shit now.
We, also, are feeling confident that Emison is Endgame at this point, so when the camera pans to a gold metal nozzle spitting gas into the room from the open fireplace, we can't really find it in our hearts to worry too much about it. Although maybe they'll wake up with amnesia! Then we'll have some real spin-off possibilities on our hands…
Anyway, back in Aria's personal Hitchcock film, she has finally made it into town and is approaching the Rosewood police station with the steely resolve that only a person who speaks to corpses could have, when Ezra LITERALLY tackles her. At first, we assume he knows what she’s up to and wants to stop her, but no. He was just enthusiastic about finding her, we guess? He tells her they should get out of there, but she refuses—she’s got to redeem herself to the Liars by taking the fall for all of it. Ezra looks at her like she’s nuts (which, at the moment, she sort of is) and reminds her that she’s free and clear; there’s nothing linking her to Dunhill. And with absolutely perfect delivery, Aria (dead)pans:
We have been making a whole lot of noise about how utterly disappointing and frustrating this episode was, but the truth is, up to AND INCLUDING this point, we were have a ton of fun watching it! The pace was breakneck, the atmosphere was feeling real classic, and then here, right now, they hit a music cue so great, we simultaneously message each other in all caps. The twangy, soulful rock song that hits when Aria makes her pronouncement, then underscores the cut to Mona sitting inside the Two Crows, it is GREAT. We have no idea what it is (Tunefind is coming up short this time), so if you know, tell us in the comments!
Anyway, out in the diner parking lot, Spencer pulls up to find Hanna and Caleb are keeping a close eye on Mona, who is still completely alone in her booth. We are reminded (because we definitely forgot) that Mona was supposed to meet Charlotte at the Two Crows the night Charlotte was killed. This colors her extremely guilty in Caleb’s eyes, but Hanna, our sweet beautiful infant child, remains faithful to Mona, pointing out that maybe she took Murder Jumanji to help them, not hurt them. “You guys are fighting like you’re married or something,” Spencer remarks, which is a little on the nose, but definitely not the worst sin the writers will commit his episode.
Hanna and Caleb consider telling her, but before they can pull the trigger, Spence pulls Hanna aside to fill her in on Mary Drake’s recent gift. Hanna is just as confused as we were, although maybe less alarmed at the memory of what happened to her there than we might have expected. When they turn back to ask Caleb if Mona has made any moves, they find that, to their chagrin, he has ghosted them and gone after Mona.
Inside, Caleb sits down across from our queen and glances at the untouched plate of pie in front of her. “Did you like your pie?” he asks. Then, without waiting for an answer or even breaking eye contact, he slowly pulls the pie across the table AND STARTS EATING IT. WTF. Is CALEB A.D.??? (no, but can you even imagine?)
“Who are you waiting for?” he continues. When Mona tries to deny that she’s waiting for anyone, Caleb cuts her off, informing her that they’re taking her to the police and picking up Murder Jumanji on the way. Mona’s eye twitches as she yells at him that she doesn’t have the game anymore.
“Someone stole it. Someone’s always stealing the game from me!” She obsessive-compulsively rubs her fingers with a napkin, rambling paranoid thoughts we'd all hoped she'd left behind in Season Three, and the waitress comes to hand her the check. Mona peeks at it and makes a face, and when Hanna and Spencer enter, she bolts across the restaurant and into the ladies' room.
Spencer, Caleb and Hanna chase her into the bathroom but she’s already gone, leaving the dropped receipt in her wake. It says, of course, LEAVE NOW. In like ten seconds longer than it took for us to see it from the distance of our living rooms, Caleb manages to find a trap door in the wall that leads to a secret tunnel. Oh, Rosewood. SURE. Why not?
Hanna starts toward it, but Caleb stops her. They’ve been married for like an hour and he’s already refusing to let her go down sketchy bathroom tunnels. (For the record, if Rosemary's husband ever refused to “let her” do anything…well, let’s just say she married him because he never would.) Hopefully remembering the last times she was in a Rosewood-adjacent underground tunnel (her kidnapping, and the dollhouse), Hanna does what Rosemary would never do and huffs a sigh, agreeing to take the car back to town. On the one hand this is way dumb, because when has splitting up ever worked SUPER WELL for them? On the other hand, see Hanna's history with tunnels. No good solution here!
Upstairs from Brew-Mart, Ezra is trying to convince Aria that they should skip town because there’s nothing keeping them here lol um yeah except FOR THE BODY IN HER TRUNK YOU ASSCLOWN. Aria refuses to leave her friends, though, so Ezra, Rosewood’s Expert Arrest Evader, convinces her that they at least need to get out of Tanner’s jurisdiction…once they’ve taken care of the little “problem in her trunk.” But how will they do that, she asks, to which Ezra hilariously delivers.
What Would Jack Kerouac Do?
True story: we have never felt closer to Ezra Fitzgerald than this very moment.
One of the few things we do recall from PLL pre-time jump is the #5fYearsForward preview from the end of Season Five, which found Alison writing Mrs. Rollins on the blackboard as the Liars burst into the classroom to warn her that HE was coming for her. We mostly remember this one thing because they never actually followed up on it. UNTIL NOW, BITCHES, when we finally learn what on earth was happening all those many seasons ago.
Well, kind of. Rein in any high hopes you may have had though, our dudes, because turns out it was all just a dream, a gas-induced dream of Emily's that ends with the Liars stacking desks against the door to keep the ominous person from getting to them through terrestrial means, while in the corner opposite a zombie hand bursts through plaste and grabs Alison by the throat.
Shocked by her subconscious, IRL Emily crashes to the floor, immediately setting about to rouse Ali. YEP. The “flash forward” moment that everything should have been leading to was just the random nightmare of a random Liar, one who, thanks to some leaked gas neither she nor Ali ever follow up on, slept right through a bit of a home invasion. We're not mad—who said we're mad?
While they were sleeping, A.D. returned Murder Jumanji, and it now awaits them on the dining room table, going haywire and looping the moment from that old NAT video of yellow-tank-topped Ali at the kissing rock with Ian saying, “We don’t have a lot of time.” Before they can even start to dissect what that might mean, there's a banging at the door. It's Aria and Ezra, come to whisk them out of Tanner's jurisdiction! (Definitely how murder charges work.)
They pile into Ezra’s car, and as they set out on Rosewood’s only street, Alison apologizes to Aria for shutting her out—it was something high school Alison would’ve done (which, yes, high school Alison was a heathen, but at least she had chutzpah!). Aria replies, “When people panic, they go back to old behavior.” This, it seems, is the theme of tonight’s episode.
Their grand escape is foiled when Ezra drives up to a road block, where the RPD has set up a checkpoint MAYBE not for them, but, like, definitely probably for them. Plan B: the Lost Woods Resort, somehow.
Meanwhile, having sent Hanna on her merry way, Caleb and Spencer are now down in Rosewood’s bathroom tunnel to Hell with nothing but a flashlight and a loaded, awkward silence to keep them company. One thing, however, is clear: Mona isn’t A.D. Why? Because A.D. doesn’t get messages—they give them.
“Poor Mona,” Caleb says, “she always wants to be in charge of everything.” “Yet always ends up middle management,” Spencer finishes. Caleb stops then and, aproopos of, we guess, walking to their doom? spills the beans that he and Hanna are, in fact, married, to which Spencer so cooly and calmy congratulations him that we can’t help but wonder if this isn’t Twincer we’re seeing.
Ugh this gif contains more chemistry than the last two seaons worth of Haleb.
After walking awhile, the tunnel just…ends. Or maybe it splits? The shot is super unclear, as is Spencer and Caleb's reaction to it. PRESUMABLY they did not go down a nearly-literal rabbit hole that led nowhere, but who knows? That Twincer is a real trickster.
Mona, With the Roses, in the Belfry
Hanna, at least, made it safely back to Rosewood…well, almost. She’s walking across the church lawn when lavender rose petals drift down from the steeple, and because, apparently, Hanna is incapable of staying out of trouble when Caleb/another Liar isn’t near, she goes up to the belfry to check things out. There, she finds Mona, dressed in her pre-Ali's-death nerd-girl finery. Mona has, incomprehensibly and unbelievably, reverted to a childlike version of herself as her memories drew her back to the night Charlotte died.
Here it is! The Worst Sin Committed in This Episode! We finally made it. We know—you're welcome.
So, Broken!Mona takes her time expositing this to Hanna, whom she mistakes as Charlotte's ghost, but we'll cut it short: Mona found Charlotte in the belfry that night in order to confront her about the fact that she knew that Charlotte had been faking her recovery for five long years, and that now that she had been officially released, she was going to go back to torturing Ali and the rest of the Liars just like old times—and Mona had to stop her.
Yes, that is correct: the PLL writers decided the way to “solve” that little problem they had of villifying and then murdering a trans woman was to have said trans woman be inherently and intractably tricky and evil. It’s awful. Also, from a storytelling perspective, her continuing to be evil is just UNINTERESTING and lazy—especially given that we never got to see her have any sort of relationship with Ali on screen, or spend any time with her, as a person, not cackling villainously.
All those years spent locked up in Radley means Charlotte never met a single member of the First Church of Saint Mona.
Nearly as unforgivable as this doubling down of trans villainy is the reintroduction of Mona's mental illness as a bullet that takes her down in her prime, after many years of her own recovery, and as something bad and dangerous and inimical to other people's safety. Mental health is villified with too great regularity already, especially female mental illness. We don't have to tell any of you about the history and toxicity of hysteria. Mona is better than this. Pretty Little Liars should have been better than this. We are CRUSHED.
Anyway, it is around this time that Mona snaps and leaps for Hanna, still thinking she is Charlotte. It is also around this time that Caleb and Spencer make their way up into the belfry (maybe the tunnel let out under the church?). They restrain Mona and are all ready to haul her across the square to the RPD, but Hanna won’t let them. Instead, she insists that they take her to the Lost Woods Resort. As a reward, the group finds the game's final two puzzle pieces hanging by red ribbon from their car's sideview mirror.
The Eyes Have It
The Liars gather at the Lost Woods Resort, bed buddies and Mona in tow. Ezra second guesses the belfry gang's decision and declares himself to be firmly on the side of taking Mona to the police, because, we guess, he’s totes cool with everyone being arrested but himself/Aria, but everyone else (thankfully) shuts him down. They give her to the cops, they reason, and they may never see her again. Besides, she’s clearly reverted back to a safe place (episode theme!) and seems mostly harmless—which are words that should never, EVER describe our queen Mona. Your recappers ache at the thought of the smartest, most fearless badass on this show reduced to a fraction of her former self. QUEEN MONA WAS THE BEST THING ABOUT PLL AND YOU’VE TAKEN EVEN THAT FROM US.
Anyway, they put the two found puzzle pieces into the game and get to “CLAIM THE GRAND PRIZE,” freaking finally. The puzzle pieces complete a picture of horrifying zombie eyes, and when the phone tells them “The eyes have it,” they use the phone to scan the puzzle, which through something Spencer calls “augmented reality” but is clearly just A.D.'s propietary hack on SnapchAt causes a little A.D. avatar to tiptoe out of the middle of the gameboard and over to Aunt Carol’s house. Which we definitely thought was made up, but is apparently where "Charles" was "buried" by Ken Dad way back when (sure). Which must mean that’s where A.D. has hidden Dunhill’s body!
Gotta catch'em all!
And so the Liars head on over to Carol’s with some shovels. But right before they start to dig, Aria’s like, “Actually, can we not?” Because seriously! Why don’t they just leave this shit alone! Take A.D.’s word for it that Dunhill is buried here, go home, and move on with their damn lives. It is a completely novel idea, but the other Liars eventually agree, and turn back to the car one at a time, shovels in hand. But as they walk away, they’re blinded by the bright headlights of a bulldozer and the flashlights of Tanner and her million minion detectives. Just like the end of Season One, they’ve been caught shovel-handed.
Back at RPD HQ, the Liars realize there is, finally, no way out. They’re so far up Murder Creek (feeds into the Lake of 1,000 Masks) that Spencer actually suggests they tell the truth; there is literally nothing else left for them to lose. The rest of the Liars can't believe what they are hearing, but just then Tanner walks in. She confirms that the body buried in Charles' grave was indeed Dunhill’s, but she’s got a little something to deal with before she takes care of the Liars. She disappears into the next room where a light comes on, and through a two-way mirror, the Liars watch as none other than Mary Drake confesses to 1) running over Dunhill with her car, 2) burying him in the woods and 3) killing Jessica DiLaurentis.
That’s right, y’all. Alexis. Called. That. Shit.
Tanner has her confession, and being the terrible (maybe? definitely inscrutable) officer of the law that she is, she tells the Liars they’re free to go—even though she KNOWS they aren’t innocent in all of this. But her district attorney doesn’t care about anything except having a nice bow tied on the top of his closed murder packages, which is exactly what Mary Drake has given her. As the Liars leave the station, Mary is escorted out, and with a quick finger-to-the-lips-gotta-secret-can-you-keep-it-style gesture, she leaves in handcuffs.
Two can keep a secret if one of them is your long lost mother who you just found out gave you up at birth and confessed to two murders to keep you out of prison, apparently.
With the weight of a possible murder conviction off their shoulders, the Liars head back to the Lost Woods Resort (sure, cool, great) to let Mona know that Dr. Sullivan is coming to get her (sure? cool? great? but also, didn't Mona blackmail Dr. Sullivan into skipping town just so she could continue to torture the Liars??). Hanna apologizes for pulling her back into the game, to which Mona responds, heartbreakingly, “You needed me. You don’t know what that felt like.” ::sob::
Then we flashback AGAIN to the belfry, as Mona finishes the story about that night up there with Charlotte. She HAD been holding Charlotte over the edge, bluffing that she'd push her if Charlotte didn't jump on her own. Despite Charlotte ending up on the ground, though, it wasn't because Mona pushed her. Mona, our hero, couldn't go through with it. She didn't push her from the ledge, but rather threw her back on the ground. “That taste in your mouth? That’s what dying tastes like. Get used to it, because you’re gonna choke on it the rest of your life.” Eesh. Of course, Charlotte didn't take that lying down—she knocked Mona off her feet and the girls wrestled around the tower until eventually Mona pushed Charlotte off her and into the wall, where a protruding metal object hit her in the back of the neck, effectively killing her.
So yes, in self defense or by accident or whatever you want to call it, Mona killed Charlotte. And now, she’s having a psychotic break, and ugh, the whole storyline is complete garbage.
The sun comes up, the church bells toll, and now that the truth about Charlotte’s killer is out, the game shuts down forever. The Liars stand around the darkened board game, unsure what to do next. "No, wait—that's not true," Spencer says. She's sure about all of them.
Except, then, hilariously, “Without You” starts playing in the background, the camera cuts to the Liars' game pieces suffocating in a plastic baggie (same tbh), and we watch a gloved A.D. drive off into the sunrise.
IT'S THE FINALE, EVERYONE. We want to say that we have high hopes for a LOT of revealed secrets, since the trailer for next week was literally just a flashback montage, which we're hoping was an attempt to keep all spoilers close to their chest. We WANT to say that. But also, we have the Middle gif saved to our desktops. You know, just in case.
In the meantime, here's a page from the finale script. It is very bad!
A(lexis and Rosemary)